page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6
page 7
page 8
page 9
page 10
page 11
page 12
page 13
page 14
page 15
page 16
page 17
page 18
page 19
page 20
page 21
page 22
page 23
page 24
page 25
page 26
page 27
page 28
page 29
page 30
page 31
page 32
page 33
page 34
page 35
page 36
page 37
page 38
page 39
page 40
page 41
page 42
page 43
page 44
page 45
page 46
page 47
page 48
page 49
page 50
page 51
page 52
page 53
page 54
page 55
page 56
page 57
page 58
page 59
page 60
page 61
page 62
page 63
page 64
page 65
page 66
page 67
page 68

These trailists from Old Mondoro eventually caught up with their quarry. November 2008 Travel Zambia 25 Making tracks FRANCOIS D'ELBEE / OLD MONDORO

L ion! A big male, too, explains my guide, Levy Farao. We squat down for a closer look at that unmistakable signature: four round toes in front of the pad; twin indentations at the back. The single paw print has all the chilling authority of gangland graffiti. Clearly we are intruding on someone else's patch. And not just anybody's: this is Mr Big. Levy has little doubt that this is the lion we heard roaring during the night. Just three hours ago, at 4am, the explosive snorts of panicking impala jerked me awake. I sat transfixed in the darkness – like a child counting seconds between lightning and thunder – as the big cat's moans reverberated through the insect throb of the Zambezi night. So, only fifteen minutes into our walk from Old Mondoro Camp and already pulse rates are quickening. This, I know, is why Zambian walking safaris have acquired their legendary reputation. More tracks confirm that our quarry is heading away from the river and towards the escarpment. We fall into step behind Levy as he takes up the trail. In front is Gideon, our scout, whose rifle provides at least some reassurance. Yet there is a palpable tension: every shadow seems to conceal a tawny body; every swaying twig is the twitch of a tail. There is something about the Lower Zambezi – that smoky light beneath the browse- line, perhaps – that reminds me of English parkland. It is hard to believe that such formidable beasts as lions prowl this apparently benign terrain. But there is nothing English about the immense elephant bull that we come upon next, casually demolishing a winterthorn. Nor the baboons that scatter shrieking from our path as we detour around the jumbo, the grunting of hippos from the river behind us, and the exuberant tropical birdsong – black- headed oriole, white- browed robin chat, black- crowned tchagra – that emanates from every thicket. Levy stops frequently to consult the trail. He points out the neat cloven imprint of impala and the heavy, blunter stamp of buffalo – the latter embroidered with the delicate, tiny- pawed signature of a genet. Our lion's tracks are now overlaid with those of a more recent leopard heading in the opposite direction. I glance around nervously. But as the temperature rises, so the tension ebbs. Levy is concerned that we are wandering 26 Travel Zambia November 2008 The single paw print has the chilling authority of gangland graffiti. Above left: A lion's pad is twice as big as any other predator's. Left: Hippo trails are the highways of the Lower Zambezi bush – easily identified by the central ridge left by the feet on either side. ALL PHOTOS MIKE UNWIN ( PAGES 26– 31)